In the epic Iliad, while Achilles anger is all-consuming and of a self-destructive nature, Odysseus is a legendary King a hero of the Iliad & viewed as a man of the brilliant mind, having a voice of reason, renowned for his self-restraint and diplomatic skills but also had a lot of pride.
He is also a good speaker. The Odyssey, one of two major ancient Greek epic poem focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the Trojan War. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach his homeland after the war.
On his way back home, sailing with his men and ships, they came upon an island. On the island they found a cave where they rested. There were 12 men with Odysseus. They were unaware that the island was filled with one-eyed cannibals known as Cyclops. On discovering the men, a Cyclops called Polyphemus returned to the cave entered and shut the opening with a huge bolder.
The men in the cave objected & enraged, the Polyphemus grabbed two of the men, smashed their heads against the rocks and started eating them one by one.
Thinking about himself and his men, Odysseus put everyone’s heads together and came up with a plan. This is of deep importance everywhere, teamwork is always needed. Odysseus and his men took a large timber, carved the end to a sharp point, and hid it.
When the Cyclops returned in the evening, Odysseus offered the Cyclops some strong wine. Polyphemus became very drunk. “What is your name? Thank you for this treat” asked Polyphemus.
“My name is No Man”, said Odysseus in an attempt to hide his identity.
Drunk Polyphemus thought maybe Odysseus was not a man. Polyphemus then fell fast asleep in a drunken sleep. As soon as he fell asleep, Odysseus and his men took the sharpened stake and poked it into the eye of Polyphemus. Thus, blinding him and escaping from his clutches.
While leaving, Odysseus revealed his identity as a sign of pride, shouting “Cyclops if any man on the face of the earth should ask you who blinded you, shamed you so- say Odysseus” Odysseus then went on to tell Polyphemus his name, father, and home.
Is there anything wrong with shouting your name with pride after winning? Or one should accept a win with humility and simply move on. Well, what happened next?
The cyclops Polyphemus then prayed to Poseidon, his father, to get revenge on Odysseus. To exact revenge, Poseidon could not kill Odysseus but completely broke him by killing his entire crew and delaying Odysseus for 10 years. This delay even destroyed his family who had nothing to do with the errors done by Odysseus on account of his pride and plain rage.
None of those terrible consequences would have happened if Odysseus had suppressed his enormous pride. Odysseus arrogance and pride resulted in a lot of suffering for many people. Hence, we can see how indirectly, anger and arrogance destroyed not only Odysseus, but his crew as well.
Often, experiencing the sweet joy of victory we become complacent and overconfident. In that moment we sometimes fall short of wisdom and take actions without giving much thought. However, these moments may lead to our downfall, and we should try to keep ourselves in check and be cautious at every moment.
The story tells how it is not easy for even virtuous heroes and demigods are prone to make mistakes and commit unlikely and unpredictable actions.
If great warriors cannot attain perfection, we shouldn’t assume we will have perfection. We should always be on guard against what we learn from the mythological stories and strive to improve ourselves with each passing day.